When Words Fail

When words fail, music speaks.
– Hans Christian Andersen

FRANCE-10081, Paris, France, Modern , 12/1989 PORTRAITS_APPFrance

Music is the universal language of mankind.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

_2SM7437, Umbria, Italy, 2012, ITALY-10534. A woman sings on the street.Italy

USA-10757Stevie Wonder performing in Los Angeles

Music is the language of the spirit.
It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.
-Khalil Gibran


Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities ,
and in time of care and sorrow,
will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.
  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer




Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination,
and life to everything.
– Plato

01030_04Dance class in Los Angeles, California

Music . . . can name the unnameable and
communicate the unknowable.

– Leonard Bernstein

USA-10654New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina


I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.
I see my life in terms of music.

– Albert Einstein


Musicians paint their pictures on silence.
– Leopold Stokowski


Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.
– Robert Fripp



Snake Charmer, Morocco, 03/1988, MOROCCO-10038Morocco

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone



To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.
– Aaron Copland

_SM15545, Havana, Cuba, 2010, CUBA-10020Cuba


We appreciate your comments.


113 Responses to “When Words Fail”

  1. We are transcended by music and your photos harness the bliss that living beings experience! Thank you!

  2. Esstelle Says:

    Again you touch our souls with your eye that captures humanities love of music. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Willian Says:

    Artists names?

  4. Reblogged this on Spirit In The Night and commented:
    Musica, maestro!

  5. Indeed, music could achieve where mere words could fail…

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you so much for the second picture, I am! very beautiful moment!!:):)


  7. saravanan Says:


  8. You are a philanthropist. I see it in your pictures.

  9. Veronika Says:

    Really emotional and stunning. Great work, you moved my heart.

  10. Love that Hans Christian Andsen Quote. Pretty soon we will launch a music database at http://www.visitandersen.com that will contain links to every piece of Hans Christian Andersen music we can get our hands on.
    If anyone of you have made music inspired by him, do please contact us!

  11. Magnifique, sensible! Grandiose.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Music give us Joy……..

  14. love the guys in Yemen:)

  15. Beautiful photos and a very moving post! Music really is the one thing in this world that joins people together.

  16. Joyful, amazingly human, splendid!

  17. Beatrice come sei; Says:

    L’ha ribloggato su Respiri..

  18. Very cool idea! I like this set…

  19. Another great garland of images with a divine theme as a thread. Ancient Indian saying ‘ Nada Bramha’ music is god/music is divine comes alive here. Thank you Steve for a great blog

  20. Simply stunning as always!

  21. Fabulous photos! Congratulations: each of them is so moving. I am also writing because the first one is a photo of me that I had never seen (cellist) It was taken in my Paris apartment early 90s when I still lived there. I would love to talk about it with you and remember the circumstances. Wasn’t Patrick Zachmann at the same photo shoot?
    Looking forward to reconnect! Bravo again! CT

  22. With every picture you have captured a glimpse of our speachless life, sometimes unknown… Thank you for sharing your work !

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Great idea and beautiful photos from different cultures look forward to blog a photo from Egypt, if I can send one?

  24. […] When Words Fail | Steve McCurry’s Blog. […]

  25. Steve, thank you! Posted a link to this on our music publishing site. We just returned from Marin County and another wonderful choral concert — old stuff, new stuff: from Michael Haydn to Tarik O Reagan — and your photos express what so many of us feel when we sing. Both the words and your images help us celebrate this gift. Wow — again!

  26. Gorgeous photos and wonderful words. Thank you!

  27. Lovely quotes and marvelous pictures!

  28. Reblogged this on Caixa Negra and commented:
    Exactamente ! Tal como diz McCurry, quando as palavras faltam, sobra. a musica …. e as imagens.

  29. i was listening to “a speeding car” by mono while watching these pictures. the entire experience was something i will never forget. thank you.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    …when the words and music fail: Steve and his camera SPEAKS!…(PASI)

  31. […] স্টিভ ম্যাককারি’র ওয়ার্ডপ্রেসের ফটোব্লগ দেখছিলাম। Light of Faith নামে একটা বিভাগে বিভিন্ন দেশের, বিভিন্ন ধর্মের প্রার্থণারত মানুষের দারুন সব ছবি আছে। https://stevemccurry.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/when-words-fail/ […]

  32. music websites

    […]When Words Fail | Steve McCurry's Blog[…]

  33. Navid McLean Says:

    could you add any photo from Afghanistan to this amazing photo collection…. very nice

  34. Love your work Steve. Grew up on it. Just love it. You are an inspiration. Always have and always will be. Moved. A bow from India. Regards Salil

  35. ¿Hay algún tema del que Steve no pueda sacar imágenes increíbles?

  36. I can never tire of your photographs. Stunning as ever.

  37. Un tour du monde musical ! Magic !

  38. tout est dit et c’est superbe !

  39. Music means so much in my life. Great photos:)

  40. […] Recently I became very enthralled with photography and the amazing power that a captured moment can convey.  While searching through the miriad of photography-based blogs, I came across this collection by Steve McCurry. […]

  41. Thank you for the Music!

  42. I appreciate a lot yours pictures. Bravo. From Montréal. A.D

  43. Beautiful! Different from a lot of your other work. Like it!

  44. Superb, fantastic photos and luminosity. congratulations

  45. […] When Words Fail (Steve McCurry) – For photography and music […]

  46. Anonymous Says:

    you photos are always an inspiration ! music is the 2nd dearest thing in the world to me, next to photography !

  47. Its always a pleasure looking at your pictures. The emotion, the story and the words you choose to describe them, just make it the entire experience even more awesome.

  48. […] I mentioned accessibility issues, but here’s one titled When Words Fail that Steve McCurry has curated from his world travels. […]

  49. Fantastique série !
    Merci beaucoup pour toutes ces images magnifiques !

  50. rodrigomansilla Says:

    Maravilloso trabajo…!!!

  51. Awesome. Words fail me…:)

  52. Świetne fotografie i myśli:)
    Miłość jest muzyką, muzyka miłością…

    Pozdrawiam serdecznie! Rena

  53. I so agree with this sentiment regarding music! As always, your photos and captions are remarkable!

  54. Evieg40 Says:

    Once again Steve, amazing and touching!

  55. Thank You! Beautiful photographs. I especially liked the first two!

  56. Beautiful Pictures, Beautiful…

  57. […] McCurry son blog girişinde ‘Kelimeler yetersiz kaldığında‘ diyerek dünyadan müzik yapanların karelerine yer vermiş. O karelerden son gördüğüm […]

  58. Carmen Magana Says:

    I love everything you do….. I wish you have time to visit my country El Salvador, America Central…. you can take a beautiful picture there… Also I recommend you my city where I was born called Santa Ana it’s the second important city in my country…. Thank you for your work it’s amazing passion… God bless you…:)

  59. Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures. I love music and love photography….no need for words when one loves them both! Ciao from Rome

  60. Photos heart to heart. Thank you.

  61. Brilliant….leaves me speechless!

  62. Another great work !

  63. I love music. It lifts my mood and I believe it is food for the soul. TV is pure garbage mostly, media propaganda, and movies brainwashing, but music is mostly good. Let us not forget the value that music has and don’t allow public schools to eliminate music programs for children. Thanks

  64. Reblogged this on Wonder and Beauty and commented:
    Another set of stunning photos by Steve McCurry.

  65. Another superb series. Thank you.

  66. Pas de mot assez fort. ;o))

  67. Reblogged this on Ideas_R_Bulletproof and commented:
    a brilliant compilation of images by Steve McCurry on the world of music……

  68. Another post…. another story… the same: brilliant work!
    What can we say? I loved all the photos, but the 2nd, is awesome…

    Thanks for sharing photos, brilliant photos…

  69. […] When words fail, music speaks. – Hans Christian Andersen France Music is the universal language of mankind. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Italy Stevie Wonder performing in Los Angeles Music is the l…  […]

  70. Good Evening: Very good collection; thank you for publishing the pictures. My personal favorite is the one at the very top, and I have a question about it. Has the musician’s practice room always looked like that, or was the entire scene created from scratch, like a scene on a movie set? It’s excellent either way; I’m just curious. Vonn Scott Bair

  71. Thanks for sharing this, great images as always

  72. Anonymous Says:


  73. Anonymous Says:

    Wonderful, fantastic photographic essay. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes for you

  74. Reblogged this on INTO THE BARDO, A BLOGAZINE and commented:
    “When words fail, mustic speaks.” This photo essay from Steve McCurry is simply fabulous, as all his work is. J.D.

  75. Music connects us. It is a language we can all understand. It evokes feelings that we all share as a human family. Thanks for sharing this!

  76. A reblogué ceci sur Humeurs en blog and commented:
    you are a fantastic photographer!

  77. Amazing! So numerous excellent and different pictures on a theme! Discovering the world that way. You’ve travelled a lot.

  78. Reblogged this on Neverending1's Blog and commented:
    Steve McCurry’s photos. As always, stunning. Enjoy. [NE1]

  79. I keep thinking your photos can’t get any better, but each time they do. As always, beautiful.

  80. Anonymous Says:

    Music is the language of heaven that resonates in all creation throughout the universe.

  81. Reblogged this on ELANA – The Voice of the Future and commented:

  82. I enjoy your photography and blog. It’s nice to know that we have the same taste in music. As you can see from my Twitter site…:-)


  83. Yes, “Musicians paint their pictures on silence”. Wonderful photographic essay. I enjoyed the quotes too.

  84. What a perfect post to open up and enjoy before going off to teach a voice lesson!:) Thank you for showing how truly universal music is, and how indispensable.

  85. For me, the most beautiful , and emotional, image is of the young Indian family entirely dependent on the most basic and meager instruments needed to make music to earn a few rupees for subsistence living. Hard to see sorrow and defeat in those whose only aim is to please.

  86. Fantastic photos!

  87. Reblogged this on i Ord och Bild and commented:
    ÄVEN OM jag inte lyssnar på musik jämt jämt, så skulle jag inte kunna föreställa mig en värld utan musik. Musik kan få själen att dansa!

  88. ….music is a part of life. I like many kinds music of many countries in the World.
    All photos are speaking about the Emotion love …!
    Thank you photographer Steve McCurry for sharing the feeling of life!

  89. Speechless….

  90. Carlos Ardila Díaz Says:

    I love music, I love photography… beautiful gallery… thank you!

  91. Andersen is right😉 , music isn’t a language, it’s music! And it is by far not as global as the myth wants to make us believe, or people who spread the myth want to, still, the fact, that music isn’t a (word-)language makes it easier to react emotionally, with curiosity, and open up, when we hear it…

  92. Fantastic photography. as always. Thanks for showing.

  93. WOW and they just drew me closer when you qouted the familiar words by a Dane in the beginning of this post – thanks for sharing

  94. Wonderful multidimensional pictures. They almost make me listen to the tune being played…

  95. Lexpaul Says:

    Reblogueó esto en LeoAr Photography / Lex Ariasy comentado:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  96. Thank you for sharing.

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